Tampa community demands: ‘Justice for Javon Neal’
Tampa, FL – In the wake of intense Justice for Trayvon protests, community members gathered in front of a police substation here on July 22, the one-year anniversary of Javon Neal's murder by Tampa police. Neal, a 16-year-old African American student, was shot more than 19 times by the police.
In the heart of the African American community, the rally started with 20 people and speeches and chants like, “No justice no peace, no racist police!” Police began to appear from their offices and more community members came from their houses and apartments hearing the chants.
Life Malcolm of the Justice for Trayvon Coalition of Tampa said this about Neal's murder, “Nobody was in a body bag before the police showed up. The same people who have body armor and all sorts of weapons of mass destruction, act as if they're scared.”
More and more people began to appear from their houses, videotaping, watching and cheering. At one point three women appeared with hoodies, in remembrance of Trayvon Martin.
Malcolm went on, “We need all the things other communities have, instead we get a police substation, as if we don't have enough police already. We can be responsible for ourselves, because every time we see the police they either take our money, our freedom, or the life of our loved ones.”
The protesters continued with chanting, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” A man came from the houses across the street and spoke to the rally. He told of how police were hitting an African American with a wrench, and how it only stopped because people began to record it with their cell phones. “We have to come outside our houses! I'm not scared. Nothing good comes from them being around and we're tired of it!” He continued with a quote from Malcolm X, “If you don't stand for something, then you'll fall for anything!”
From there the protesters marched to a busy intersection. Holding signs and a banner that read, “Justice for Javon, Justice for Trayvon,” those rallying at the intersection saw cheers and heard the blaring of horns. People continued chanting. As the sun set, the group planned for more actions, including a Cop Watch campaign, in which people record the police every time they harass or come into contact with the community. The organizers planned to meet the following day.